Amid and Among

Writers often get mass nouns and count nouns confused. Among is used with count nouns—meaning you use it with things you can actually count: “I stood among a group of friends.” Amid is used with mass nouns, meaning you use it with things you can’t count. You would say, “I wandered through the city amid the noise and smog, until I found myself among strangers, who looked at me oddly.” Amid often has the sense of being in the middle of something, or being surrounded, whereas among is more an intermingling or mixing with distinct or separate objects.

(And, by the way, in American English, we leave off the “st” and say amid, not amidst. And we say among, not amongst.) So “you are among a great number of Americans who use amid incorrectly if you use amidst.”

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  1. Been browsing your blog for the past week or so (read through The Heart of Your Story and Shoot Your Novel, now working on Say What?)… Lots of wonderful advice!

    I have made this mistake of using amidst rather than amid. I also use grey, colour, and similar words. To my eyes, the British English spelling looks nicer. That isn’t to say I won’t do a Find-and-Replace before I submit my writing somewhere… But I think I’ll snag the dictionary you mentioned in an earlier post and keep an eye out for words that are spelled differently (or, for that matter, used for an entirely different meaning than they originally meant).

    Looking forward to reading more!

  2. I had to explain this to a student, so I shared your blog post with them. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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